Abbey Fields park – #CountryKids

I started writing this post for last weekend’s Country Kids linky but it got forgotten about – I know I keep saying it, but with everything else going on, this poor blog is being neglected a little. But at least I’m still keeping some kind of record of what life is like during the move so we can look back on it and see that we still did fun stuff too. So here it is this weekend instead.

Last week when Granny had a day off work, we were thinking about where to go on the lovely sunny day that it was. We knew we’d like to take Andrew’s bike so he could have a good ride, and also a good park for both of them would be nice. I haven’t been to Abbey Fields park in Kenilworth for a long time, though we used to go to the swimming pool there quite a bit as children, but recently I’d been talking with a lady at a toddler group who had just moved back to the area and was raving about how great the new playground was there. So we decided to go and try it for ourselves. And it turned out to be a fantastic place for the two of them, and although there were 2 of us adults that day, it seemed like a good park for when I’m on my own with the boys too as it has a good fence and plenty to keep them both amused.

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Joel particularly liked the small climbing frame which is a perfect size for him, not far off the ground but with various challenges for him to have a go at walking/climbing over. There’s a tunnel, a rope bridge and 2 wooden bridges as well as a slide and a few different styles of steps/ladders for him to get up and down from it. The whole thing is on that squashy astroturf type ground that is great for if they fall over on it too. Joel loves to jump – I call him jumping Joel quite often – so he was pleased with the little trampoline in the ground which is just right for him. He had a go holding onto Granny, and then had goes on his own too. Another feature of the park that he liked was the stepping log line – a series of tree stumps/logs that he could walk over and jump between.

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Andrew was mostly fascinated by these hand powered diggers in a large sand pit. They were obviously designed for kids a bit bigger than him who could put their feet on the ground, but he was determined to do it himself after some initial help from Granny when he first had a go. He got the hang of what each handle did – one moved the scoop up and down and one pulled it in and out – and by the end he was very successful at scooping sand, the only problem was he needed my help in swivelling him around to dump the sand in a different place because his legs were too short to swivel himself. Joel was interested too, until he realised that he couldn’t do it himself, he was definitely too small, so off he went and left the sand pit.

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The other part of the park that Andrew liked was the older kids bit which is outside of the fenced bit with most of the equipment in it. He’s very into ‘tubey’ slides and enjoyed the challenge of climbing up the ladder and across the rope bridge to it. Joel also wanted to have a go, but of course was way too small, so Granny took him into the basket style swing that was just opposite this rather large climbing frame. But soon Andrew was bored of the slide and wanted to go back to his digger!

Once we’d had a good amount of time on the playground, we found where the path was to go on a bike ride (well, Andrew rode, we jogged!) around the rest of the park. It took us on a route around a small lake and then up a hill. I didn’t get any photos of this – I was too busy keeping up with Andrew and Granny at the front and had Joel on my back in the sling. When we got to the edge of the park, we headed into Kenilworth town centre for a quick bite to eat and well deserved cool drink. Andrew walked once we were out of the park, but got back on his bike when we returned to the park where the car was parked after our snack – he enjoyed riding down the big hill, controlling his brakes very well, also with a little speed control help from Granny!

It was a fantastic morning out and we will certainly be back here again soon!

Linking up with #CountryKids over at Coombe Mill’s blog

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Water park fun – #CountryKids

Last Sunday morning we went to our local park – the War Memorial Park in Coventry. Andrew had been a bit sick earlier in the morning, but he wasted to go out and get some fresh air, so we thought a trip to the park would cheer him up rather than our usual Sunday morning activity of going to church, where anyone sitting in the pew in front of us may have ended up being showered in sick – at least in the open air such an incident would be more easy to deal with! Anyway, he was generally ok, if a little slower and less bouncy than usual, and he slept for quite a while in the afternoon when we got back, so he must have been ill.

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Andrew was happy to play quietly in the huge sand pit that is the playground, burying Daddy’s legs and then having his own legs buried, while I ran around after Joel, who allowed his legs to be buried just the once.

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Joel was all over the place, as usual, on the slide, the round about, climbing up the grassy mound to the slides, running down it, sieving sand, lifting it up in buckets etc. etc.! He even had a go at pushing Daddy around on the round about. Then another family noticed that there were a couple of guys in council uniforms opening up the water park area next to the sand park. This has been there for a while now, but I’ve never seen it open. There is a sign on it saying that it’ll only be open in school summer holidays, so I thought maybe they were just cleaning it or preparing it for the summer holidays in a few weeks. But before we knew it, there was water shooting up all over it and the other family were in and splashing about. So we followed….

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This really cheered Andrew up. If I hadn’t have seen him more ill in the morning, I would never have known! He was running about all over the place, splashing in the water, getting very wet. He particularly liked running under the fountains that made arches up and over him. Joel, on the other hand, was a little scared of the shooting water, so preferred to run around on the bits that weren’t working yet – about half the water features were working and half weren’t, but as it was only us and one other family there, there was plenty of space for us all to run around in the wet bits.

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We’d taken a change of clothes, so when Andrew decided he’d had enough of the water, I stripped him off and put on his dry clothes. He’d also spotted and ice cream van by that point and asked for an ice cream. I told him that an ice lolly would be ok (sugar and water was probably just what he needed), so he happily munched on that. Joel doesn’t like ice cream – I think it’s too cold for him – so I got a soft ice cream in a cone and he ate the cone for me (which I’m not fussed about!) Considering the morning had started so miserably, we were glad to have had such a fun morning out, and see this water park that has been shut so many times before.

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Joining in with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog

Whitley Common Playground – #CountryKids

After a couple of weeks’ break from the #CountryKids linky that I usually join in with, I thought I’d share this quick post. Weekends have been very busy going over to our new house and sorting stuff like cleaning, shifting junk that the previous owner just left there, and preparing it for the decorator, so I haven’t had much time to blog our outdoor adventures. As the weather has been so nice, we’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors, either in the garden with the paddling pool or at the local park.

I realised that I hadn’t yet blogged about a park local to Granny and Grandad’s house where we’ve been living, the one that I find the least stressful to take both boys to on my own – Whitley Common Playground. The big park that is nearest to us is hard for me to take them to on my own because there are no fences around the playground so Joel just runs off, and Andrew tries to climb on the teenage climbing frames whilst my head is turned running after Joel – bit of a nightmare! But the Whitley park is much better for us in this respect.

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It’s not huge, but it’s the perfect height and experience level for the boys to do on their own. Obviously I’m there to help and watch them too, but I only have 2 hands and eyes in the front of my head. There is also a fence around the toddler section, which slows Joel down when he tries to escape – he has just learned how to throw his whole weight on the gate to open it, but at least I get longer to spot that and run after him than an open field! And because the climbing frame is just right for him, he doesn’t often try this on anyway. The ground is that lovely squishy astroturf too, which is great at cushioning any falls.

Andrew loves going down the fireman’s pole, as you see in the pictures above, and this is great because it’s the smallest pole like this in a playground that I’ve seen and he is getting good practice at doing this without being very far from the ground at all. He also likes playing with the clock on the end of the climbing frame, telling me what time is is, and on the other side of this there is a ship’s wheel that he likes to stand at and turn, pretending that he’s ‘driving’ a ship. There is quite a bit of space just to run around on the soft ground too, and when there are other kids his age there too, they often end up playing a game of chase on this, which he really loves.

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Joel is definitely a climber – he climbs wherever he can (or can’t!), whether that’s on furniture at home when I’m not looking or climbing frames that are really too big for him, he has no fear! But the small toddler frame at this park is perfect for him. He also likes to climb the slide, though I try to dissuade him from that, especially if there are other children trying to come down it. I think most kids go through a phase of wanting to climb slides rather than slide down them, and he is definitely there right now.

As well as the toddler section of the playground that’s within a fence, there is also an older kids’ section outside of the fence next to the common – an open field where lots of dog walkers go, which is some distance from any road so it’s quite safe anyway. Joel quite likes trying to climb up on the bigger climbing frame, as you can see above, and actually with a bit of help even this isn’t too difficult for either of the boys, and they enjoy sliding down the bigger slide at the top of it. In this section there’s also a big tyre swing that Andrew likes to go on when there are other kids his age, but Joel is happier on the toddler swings in the fenced part.

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As I said, it’s not massive, but there is a variety of things to play on that are all brilliant for the boys’ current size. They don’t seem too fussed by the seesaw, which you can just about see in the distance in the picture above, though Andrew likes standing on the ground and pushing it up and down with his hands, and Joel occasionally comes by to see what he’s doing.

I’m glad that we’ve had such a good park close to where we’ve been living, and I’m glad that I’ve now written a record of it to look back on when the boys are bigger. The local park at our new house is perfect for Andrew’s age and older, which will be good for them to grow once we finally move at the end of the month.
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Sunny afternoon exploring Bournville parks – #CountryKids

Yesterday came the day that we finally took the boys to see our new house. We’ve been talking about this new house with them for a while and aI think Andrew was beginning to wonder whether it really exists. We still need to get some work done on it – just decoration, nothing major – but pinning work men down to a particular day to start work can be tricky. As Granny had the day off, we decided to all head over there while Daddy was over there already as the electrician was finishing off. It was such a lovely sunny day that we thought it would also be a great idea to explore the local parks with the boys, as well as show them the house.

I’m not sure that they were that impressed with the house – there is little furniture and no toys there – but Joel seemed to like the stairs (it’s set over 3 floors) and Andrew liked to hear whose room was whose. After we’d given them a tour and had a picnic lunch at the house, we left Daddy doing a few more jobs all the while that he needed to be in for the electrician, and headed out down the road in search of our local park. We knew there is a nice green area with a small lake not far from the house, but we’d not actually been down the path yet to find it as pedestrians rather then just driving past it on our way into the road. But we followed our sense of direction and at one point this was confirmed by a dog walker.

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It’s a lovely area to walk through, very quiet and most of it is just on paths beyond where the cul-de-sac roads end. As the path opened up at the end, we suddenly saw the small lake, and walked up further to watch the geese and ducks being fed by someone else. Unfortunately we hadn’t got any bread with us, but I’m sure there will be plenty more occasions to go and feed them in future! We walked around the edge of the lake, and came across a building – the Bournville Model Yacht Club – I bet that’s fun to go and watch when they are out with their toy boats.

Andrew was slightly disappointed that there was no playground in this ‘park’ (a park isn’t a park without a playground in his opinion). So I looked on the map on my phone to see exactly where Bounrville park was in relation to where we were, because I’d only ever seen it from the main road and knew there must be a shorter route to it. And sure enough, there was a lovely path leading from the lake to the park.

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As we walked along it, we passed the Cadbury college (local secondary school) which has purple bits all over its building. In the field between the school and where we were walking, Andrew spotted some teenagers playing a game. He was insistent that it was football, until we got closer and we could tell that it was in fact that British school classic – rounders. We tried to explain it to him and sat for a few minutes on a bench to watch.

We walked through a slightly more wooden area beyond the school, and came to a bridge over the Bourn (brook) that was perfect for playing Pooh sticks on, which Andrew was desperate to do and had tried further back at a bridge near the lake where the water wasn’t very fast flowing. Just beyond the Pooh sticks bridge was an entrance to the park, and we could see the playground in the distance – phew! I got Joel down from the sling and we all walked through the park. The playground was full of school kids, clearly on a trip to Cadbury World which is just over the road. But they were very good, and let the boys have a go on some of the things that they had taken over.

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Through the fence of the park up by the playground, we could see through to the local infant and junior school that we will put as our first choice for Andrew’s school place soon. I showed Andrew the lovely toys and craft equipment that they had out in the garden area, and he seemed quite impressed. Once we’d had a good go on the playground, which wasn’t too long because it was very warm and there was little shade, we thought we could go and find an ice cream over at the local shops across the road.

We crossed over at the school crossing, which is almost opposite the Cadbury factory, and found a newsagent with a Walls sign outside. There was also a bench to sit and eat them after we’d bought. This gave us all a bit more energy to walk back home, which was a shorter walk than on the way out when we went via 2 parks. Andrew had been very good and walked most of the way, but needed a bit of a carry up the hill on the way back.

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Daddy was pleased to see us. He had been chopping the overgrown garden back, though there is still lots more work to be done on that. He showed us an old bird nest that he’d found in one of the bushes, which was fascinating for us all to look at. Soon after that the electrician was finished, and we could all head back home to Granny and Grandad’s house in the car. I’m sure we will visit these places again on may occasions in the future when we’re finally living there 🙂

Linking up with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog as usual
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Southwold – #CountryKids

At the weekend we had a very special occasion – the boys’ uncle and aunt (Daddy’s brother) got married in a lovely village in rural Suffolk where the bride is from. We had a fantastic day, the boys did very well in their roles – the 2 little ones as page boys and Daddy as best man – and it was a really lovely opportunity to catch up with family whom we know and meet those whom we didn’t know already.

The wedding itself was on the Saturday, and then on the Sunday we decided to head to the coast, only 10 miles away, to Southwold. Most of our immediate family were either heading back on a long journey straight away, or going to the church service, but as the boys had already sat brilliantly through one service the day before, we thought that a trip to the beach would be better for them. We too didn’t have masses of time before the journey home, but enough to have a paddle and a walk along the pier.

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When we got there just before 10am, there were hardly any cars in the car park and the place seemed quite empty. We parked right behind the row of beach huts, the iconic feature of this region of English sea side. As we walked to the end of the row, we saw the steps to get down onto the beach, not that there was a slot of beach at that point because it was high tide, but there were only a few other people there so we still had lots of space to ourselves. We took off shoes and had a little paddle. The water was cold but it was such a nice warm day that we didn’t mind. The boys enjoyed letting the waves chase them up the beach as they crashed in, though Joel was less sure about getting wet than Andrew was.

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Both boys were most interested in throwing pebbles into the water, or sometimes more like big rocks compared to their size! Both have a pretty good throw on them, better than mine I’d say. It was lovely to be able to run about on the sand, an experience that they don’t get very often living nowhere near the seaside. Daddy doesn’t get as excited about visiting the beach as I do, because he grew up with a sea view from his bedroom window, and I think the boys will be like me in this respect.

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After we’d finished having fun on the beach, we headed over to the pier and walked along the length of it. The whole town and especially the pier had a very classy and not at all tacky appearance, which is what I tend to associate with piers and traditional British seaside resorts. The pier was very tastefully done, with a cafe and a couple of shops along the length. There was a weird clock halfway along it, which was once a temporary exhibit somewhere but now lives here permanently. It’s driven by water and does a little ‘performance’ on the half hour and hour. Andrew thought this was hilarious. We stopped and had a drink at the cafe, and sat on an ingeniously designed bench that acted as a wind break from the fairly strong wind that was blowing across the pier.

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After our refreshment break, we walked back along the pier and crossed the road to the park. Unfortunately the playground equipment there was a little old for our boys, so we just walked on a bit further and watched the boats on the boating lake for a little while. That was about as much time as we could spend as we had to head back home which was a good 3-4 hour drive with a stop. We very much enjoyed our little trip to the seaside, and were so pleased that the weather was lovely enough to have a good walk and play on the beach.

Linking up with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Sheldon Country Park – #CountryKids

At the moment, Daddy is commuting to work every day on the train from Coventry to Birmingham. This means that he goes right past Birmingham Airport. He noticed a few months ago when he first started the commute that there was a sign for a place called Sheldon Country Park near the exit of Marston Green station (a suburb of Birmingham) which is at the far end of the runway, past the station for the airport itself. So he googled it and found that it’s a lovely big open space, right at the end of the runway where you can stand quite freely and watch planes come over your head just before they touch down on the tarmac. There is also a kids playground and a city farm at the other end of the park. Given all this, we thought it would be right up the boys’ street to go and visit. We’ve actually been twice in the space of a coupe of weeks – once in the car just after Easter, and once on the train on the early May bank holiday.

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The first time we went, we parked in the car park which is at the end of the park furthest from the runway but nearest to the playground. There were hardly any other people around when we got there, so the boys had the park to themselves. After about half an hour on there, we decided it would be a good idea to try and drag them away so we could walk up to the other end of the park by the runway. We’d been seeing planes coming in at the distance of the park, which was pretty amazing in itself, but we knew we could get closer.

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So we got Andrew’s ball out and encouraged him to run after it. There were football pitches on the way, so we scored a few goals between us as we went – he loves scoring goals! He was a little reluctant to walk all the way to the runway, not that it was that far, but we kept having to entice him with the thought that he was going to see some planes REALLY close up.

Eventually we got there, having seen a few more planes come in ahead of us as we walked. Andrew was not disappointed! We stood right at the end of the runway (behind the fence, obviously, still in the country park so there was grass and a good path as well as benches where one could sit (clearly with 2 toddlers we never get to sit). Soon enough we saw a plane in the distance, and watched it, head on, come towards us and then fly right over the top of us. We could see the wheels and the flashing lights and lots of detail underneath the plane, it was amazing. Andrew was in his element and didn’t mind the roaring noise at all. Joel was happy to stay in the sling, and was a little more cautious about the noise, but still seemed to be enjoying it. By this time it was about 11am, and there was a steady stream of planes landing and taking off. The noise standing behind jet aircraft as they took off was loud, but they soon whizzed along the runway away from us.

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That day we had planned to go to the boys’ Great Grandma for lunch, so we knew we’d have to drag them away at some point, and eventually Andrew walked back with the promise that we’d come again. And he didn’t have to wait too long, because we decided only a couple of weeks later to take advantage of a £1 day ticket on the train (because Daddy has a season ticket) and head back there on the bank holiday. We approached the runway from the other side this time, which is just a short walk from the exit of Marston Green station. There weren’t quite so many planes to see on the bank holiday, but still plenty enough, and the weather was nicer so we just played in the park for longer too. Joel was more confident this time and was signing ‘plane’ all over the place as well as running around on the grass in front of the fence.

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We also had a visit to the city farm on both days, which is a lovely idea, set up to educate local children in a big city about where their food comes from and how animals live in the countryside. We saw cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, horses and more. It’s not huge, but it was lovely to have a quick wander around with the boys. Andrew caught sight of a bouncy castle there on the bank holiday, and as it wasn’t very expensive, we let him have a go, which he loved. We’ll definitely be going back again and again, especially when we live in Birmingham, though it’s probably a similar distance there from where we’re currently living.

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Linking up with the excellent #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog

Brockhole Visitor Centre, Lake District – #CountryKids

I know I seem to be stringing out posts from our holiday in the Lake District just before Easter, but we had so much outdoor fun, that I really want to share it all and give each place a post of its own. Today I’m writing about Brockhole Visitor Centre near Ambleside on the shores of Windermere. We’ve been there every year whilst holidaying in the Lakes since we’ve had kids, because it’s a fantastic place for families. This year was the busiest I’ve seen it, probably because it was just before the Easter bank holiday weekend, and usually we don’t go during the North England school holidays. But there was still plenty of space and it didn’t feel ‘too’ busy, just more people than we’re used to when visiting.

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This year was the first that Andrew was really keen to go on all parts of the playground. It’s not far from the entrance, and as soon as he saw it, he rode his bike straight over there, ditched the bike, and ran up onto the boat climbing frame, which looks like one of the steamers that go out on Windermere. Once Joel was down from my back, he too followed and climbed up onto the boat using the stairs. In the playground there are the usual swings and slides, plus various climbing frames and other equipment, suitable for all ages. Being his usual daring self, Andrew all of a sudden shot up the big kids’ climbing frame and was swinging across rope bridges in the tree tops (all with safety nets, he couldn’t actually go anywhere downwards), then he came down the tube slide, which he was very proud of because he’d previously been put off one that was too fast for him.

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Joel was happy with the little kids’ stuff – swings and small slides as well as generally pottering about and watching the older kids play. We stayed there at the adventure playground for nearly an hour. Grandma and Pop were due to meet us at Brockhole a bit later than we’d got there because they were dropping the boys’ aunt at the station to go home, so it was handy to wait in the playground near the entrance until they turned up nearly an hour later in the end. Opposite the playground, we’d noticed that there was a small, temporary bmx bike track set up for kids to have a go on, and there were some older children having a go on the bikes provided. I wandered over to ask if Andrew, at 3 years old, could have a go using his own bike, and they said of course he could. So when we managed to drag him away fro the playground, we headed over to the bike track. It was on the grass, so quite hard for him to pedal, but with Daddy’s help, he completed the course no problem, and the guys running it were amazed how well he was doing without stabilisers for a 3 year old.

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After the fun of the bike course, we carried on with Andrew riding his bike, and took the path that leads round by the shore of the lake. It’s always hard to keep up with him these days, but Daddy just about managed it with a jog whilst the rest of us trailed a little further behind. The weather wasn’t quite so nice as it had been that day, so the lake was very choppy and high winds were blowing on shore making it quite chilly on the lakeside. This didn’t perturb the boys though, who as soon as they saw the crazy golf course, wanted to have a go. There weren’t many other people playing (not surprising given the weather), so we said that we’d go and get a couple of clubs and balls from the centre and they could ‘play’. And by ‘play’ I mean not score or do it properly, but just whack the ball with the stick wherever you can, sometimes picking up with your hands if that’s easier to get around obstacles! Crazy golf really is cray when our boys are playing it! It was great fun though, and Andrew didn’t want to leave it when we said that we should carry on because we were all getting tired and hungry for lunch.

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Despite the wind down by the lake, we found that up by the visitor centre building itself was much calmer weather-wise, and behind the building was even more sheltered. There we found a ‘picnic’ area with a few logs to sit on, which was a perfect place to eat our lunch. We decided after this to head back to the house, because we had packing to do for the journey home the next day, and the boys were both tired, so much so that they both napped on the way home – it hardly happens for Andrew these days.

In previous years we have gone into the centre and looked around the child-friendly exhibition all about the Lake District history and geography, and also had a drink in the lovely cafe there. But it was much busier this year and the boys were perfectly happy to spend all the time we had there outside. We’ll definitely be back in future years, it’s a great place to keep going back to.

Linking up with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog as usual 🙂

Watendlath tarn walk – #CountryKids

A few days into our Lake District holiday and the weather looked lovely when we woke up. We looked at the forecast too, which said it would be nice all day so we decided to head off into the fells and do a family friendly walk. We drove the cars from Keswick to Rosthwaite along the side of Derwent Water through Borowdale. There’s a handy Ntaional Trust car park at the foot of the fell that we wanted to walk up, though it was pretty full and we only just got enough spaces. Once we’d togged up with walking boots (including Andrew’s absolute bargain Karrimor ones from eBay), various layers of jumpers/coats and the slings, we headed off up the path, saying hello to the sheep grazing in the field as we walked past them.

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First there was quite a gentle, winding climb, and then it got steeper, but Andrew was amazing and walked most of it, except one carry in the sling from Daddy at the steepest part. We took our time and took in the breath-taking views. Behind us we could see the snowy summit of Scafell Pike, highest peak in England, and the very green valley floor around Rosthwaite and surrounding villages. There were plenty of sheep grazing in the lower pastures, and the odd few on higher, rockier ground.

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We passed between two craggy hill tops on either side, and then we were at the highest point of our walk. There was a gently undulating walk over the top of the fells and then we had a short downwards walk towards Watendlath tarn and village/hamlet. The views of the tarn (small hilltop lake) were stunning as we came down, and Andrew was still keen to walk all of this, holding hands and taking it slowly over the rocky rubble path on the way down. Once we were down, we just had to nip over a quaint bridge and we were on the right side of the stream to find a nice picnic spot by the tarn.

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The boys (and all of us) were ready for a break and some ‘go faster’ lunch. We even made a couple of doggy friends who came over to sniff at our picnic and lick up the crumbs. Joel was itching to walk/run around having been in the sling most of the way on the harder walk, so we were glad we had his backpack reins to keep him out of the tarn, though the shoreline was very shallow so he had a little paddle with his boots on.

All fuelled up, we headed to the tea room for a drink, though the boys and I were hoping for an ice cream because it was really quite warm by then, but their seasonal delivery was only due in the following day so we just missed it! Nevermind. It was a beautiful tea room to sit outside at – there were lots of little birds flying around and coming to pick up crumbs off the tables and the ground.

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The return walk was back the way we came, so a bit of a climb to begin with, then a gentle undulation, then a steeper descent. This time the views over to Scafell were in front of us, when we could look up from watching where we were stepping down. Andrew wanted a bit of a carry towards the end, but he’d done incredibly well. Joel was so tired he had a nap in the sling near the end of the walk, and didn’t wake up when we transferred to the car – he must have been shattered from all the fresh air.

We had an excellent day out, and it was lovely to get fell walking with the boys so that they could experience this important part of holidaying in the Lake District.

Linking up with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog as usual

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Whinlatter Forest Park – #CountryKids

On the second day of our Lake District holiday, we decided to visit one of our favourite places not far from the holiday home – Whinlatter Forest Park. As the name suggests, there are lots of trees, and several paths that wind their way through them on the hillside. There’s also a Go Ape! course in the tree tops, and the park is popular with mountain bikers who hare up and down on the trails through the forest.

Once we’d parked in the already pretty full car park (it was a relatively good weather Sunday in the Easter holidays, so everyone was out), we made our way up to the visitors centre. Granny spotted a sign which said that there was currently a Gruffalo trail in the woods and that we could get an activity sheet for it from the kiosk. So we queued up and got our sheet, then set off into the deep dark woods in search of a Gruffalo!

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Andrew was tasked with spotting the signs that had an arrow and a picture of the hairy creature with terrible claws and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws. We made our way through the winding paths, guided by Andrew’s navigational skills. Every now and then there was an activity log by the side of the path, which encouraged the kids to think about things related to the Gruffalo story. For example we had to match up animals like a mouse, snake and fox to their different homes, use our five senses to notice things in the woods, and write our names using sticks. This was all very fun whilst being educational and teaching us all about the forest. The sheet that we’d got from the kiosk was handy to write our answers to the activity questions down on, but in the end we forgot about this and decided it would be useful to repeat the activities when we got home to see how much Andrew could recall from the experience.

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One of the activities was to collect 10 natural things from the forest floor. So as we walked, Andrew collected various items like stones, twigs, leaves, feathers and bark, and stuck them in the pockets of his yellow mack until they were full to the brim. We also had some lessons on tree-related things from Pop, the tree consultant, including the resin that we could see seeping out from holes in one tree’s trunk. Despite the first half of the walk being uphill, Andrew was keen to walk most of it, though he did get tired and hitch a lift in the sling on Daddy’s back near the top, then he got out again later on the way down. We joked that Daddy blended in well with the woodland with his squirrel print fabric sling.

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Joel was mostly happy to be carried in his sling on my back, but as we neared the top of the walk, he got restless and wanted out, so he then walked all the way down again with Pop holding his reins, which was quite a way for little legs. The route back down the hill brought us through the adventure playground. This is a fantastic area for kids (and grown-ups!) of all ages. There are climbing frames and swings, but also some more unusual pieces of playground equipment including an Archimedes screw that picks up water from a stream and drops it off onto a wooden run which you can dam up in places and then release the water. Andrew was fascinated by this, and Joel liked the look of it so much that he climbed in! There is also an area of the park with gravel that you can shovel into buckets and tubes and then lift them up using pulleys onto the climbing frame which has chutes where you can drop the gravel down again. This was also popular with the boys — the adults as well as the kids!

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At this point we were nearly back down to the start again. Once we’d had a good go on the playground, we decided that we’d all earned a nice drink and snack in the cafe. Clearly everyone else had thought this too so it was packed, but it was just about warm enough to sit outside with coats on, and actually we got a lovely view of the bird feeders hanging near the cafe, which were attracting lots of little birds to the seeds.

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We had a lovely day out, and learned some interesting facts about the forest and its wildlife. Did we find the Gruffalo? Well no, but didn’t you know, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo! 😉

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Charlcote Park, National Trust – #CountryKids

As I’ve written several times before, you can always trust the National Trust for a good day out. At the end of last week, before I got ill, we decided to go to Charlcote, a local property near Stratford-upon-Avon with Granny and her brother, Uncle Uncle Richard (two uncles make a Great Uncle), who is over visiting from Australia. The weather forecast didn’t look great, but we don’t mind togging up if wet, and in the end it didn’t actually rain until mid afternoon, just as we were leaving, so that was a bonus.

We took Andrew’s bike – the balance bike again as he’s really still not keen to be let go of on the pedal bike, even though he can do it perfectly fine when riding around the cul-de-sac at home, but we’re planning on taking it away with us next week when there will be 4 adults to each child so he can have a good crack at it and shake off the fear! The grounds at Charlcote are extensive, and these huge fields are fantastic for him to ride his little bike around. We spotted some deer as we headed away from the house towards the lake – in the distance in the bottom right picture.

Charlcote Collage 1

We walked all the way around the small lake, and back round to the one end of it where there is a small waterfall where the water runs out of it. The water then runs under a bridge, so we stopped and had several rounds of Pooh sticks. The bottom right picture below is Andrew leaning over trying to see his stick come through – I had to hold him tight otherwise we risked a man overboard, he was that keen on looking for the sticks! Joel was happy to do some walking and then see the sights from on high – either shoulders or then in the sling on my back.

Charlcote Collage 2

We stopped and had some lunch in the restaurant there as our little biker was getting very tired and hungry. The boys had one of their favourites – bangers and mash. After we’d refuelled, we headed over to the West Park, the other side of the house from where we’d been, where there are even more extensive grounds to explore. We saw some sheep that are reared on the land belonging to the house, and another group of deer in the distance – this one had lots of little cute fawns 🙂 There are some lovely views back to the house from this side, and we could see it through the trees as Andrew rode on the dirt tracks that are perfect for a bike.

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On our way back towards the house, Granny spotted an old tree that had a hollow trunk. It was just the right size for Andrew to get into, which he thought was brilliant. He sat down in his little hideaway and invited us in. There was no way we could fit through the little hole in the trunk that he had, but when we went around the other side, there was a bigger hole that an adult could fit through, so Granny went and hid in there with him. We just about managed to persuade him to come out again and head back to the car.

Charlcote Collage 4

Overall this was a fantastic morning-to-mid afternoon trip out, and we all got lots of fresh air amongst some very pretty scenery. It’s been a while since I last went to Charlcote, and we didn’t make it into the house itself this time, but I’m sure we’ll be back with the boys again in the not too distant future, now that we live nearer this property again.

As ususal I’m linking up with one of my favourite linkies – #CountryKids over at Coombe Mill’s blog

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall